Great Britain

Scotland’s key workers tell ministers ‘we’re worth more’

KEY workers in Scotland will join forces to reject the latest public-sector pay offers and tell ministers “we’re worth more” at a rally in Glasgow today. 

The socially distanced protest, to be held in George Square, comes on the first day of the STUC’s  virtual annual conference. 

GMB representatives in NHS Scotland and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) have urged the union’s members working in care, nursing, refuse, ambulance, and school support services to reject the respective 4 per cent and £800 pay increases on offer. 

The Scottish government “can and should go further” to address a decade of austerity pay now that key workers have kept the country going during the Covid-19 pandemic, the union said.

A GMB consultative ballot on the Cosla pay offer will run until April 22, while a parallel ballot of the union’s members in NHS Scotland closes on May 5.

GMB Scotland senior organiser Drew Duffy said: “We were told at the start of the pandemic that Scotland was prepared for Covid-19, but nothing could have been further from the truth.

“Health and social care staff tackled the first wave without proper personal protective equipment (PPE), home carers were left without workplace testing until January and school support staff were an afterthought in the education recovery plan.

“From PPE, testing, sick pay support to socially distanced working arrangements, everything that’s been put in place to protect the workers on which we all depend had to be fought for by the workers themselves.

“And after a wretched year and desperate decade, where their modest incomes have been cut by thousands of pounds, our members are prepared to fight again for their proper value, against pay offers that don’t amount to much more than a £10 a week increase for many.

“They’ve heard the applause and they’ve read all the political platitudes, but now they are telling the Scottish government to listen and the message is clear: we’re worth more.”

Last week, unions warned of industrial unrest if ministers failed to change course after an Action on Pay report found that  third of Scotland’s 920,000 key workers were paid less than £10 an hour.

The Royal College of Nursing has also recommended that its members reject the 4 per cent NHS pay offer, but Unison has accepted the proposal, arguing that further negotiation is not possible until after next month’s Scottish Parliament elections.

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